Bleak state forecast expected

Even before lawmakers hear Thursday’s quarterly economic forecast, the Oregon Legislature’s three chief budget writers are preparing for the likelihood of even smaller tax collections that could lead to cuts in already-approved spending for the current two-year cycle.

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The Aug. 26 forecast, the first after lawmakers approved the budget and adjourned June 30, reduced lawmakers’ budget cushion by $200 million.

While he declined to be specific — he hasn’t been told a number yet — Sen. Richard Devlin said Thursday’s forecast could claim the rest of a $310 million reserve that lawmakers created by withholding a percentage of agency budgets.

“We do expect that the forecast will be down this week,” said Devlin, a Democrat from Tualatin and the Senate budget co-chairman.

The state’s budget from the tax-supported general fund and lottery proceeds for the two years that started July 1 is about $14.6 billion, plus a $460 million ending balance (about 3 percent) drawn from two sources.

Read more in today’s Stateman Journal.